A St. Louis jury has awarded a Virginia woman a record-setting $110.5 million in the latest lawsuit alleging that using Johnson & Johnson's baby powder caused cancer, the AP reports. The jury ruling Thursday night for 62-year-old Lois Slemp, of Wise, Virginia, comes after three previous St. Louis juries awarded a total of $197 million to plaintiffs who made similar claims. Those cases, including the previous highest award of $72 million, are all under appeal. Slemp, who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2012, blames her illness on her use of the company's talcum-containing products for more than 40 years. Her cancer has spread to her liver, and she was too ill to attend the trial. About 2,000 state and federal lawsuits are in courts across the country over concerns about health problems caused by prolonged talcum powder use.
Johnson & Johnson, based in Brunswick, New Jersey, said in a statement it would appeal and disputed the scientific evidence behind the plaintiffs' allegations. Talc, a mineral, has been widely used in cosmetics and other personal care products to absorb moisture since at least 1894. Much research has found no link or a weak one between ovarian cancer and using baby powder for feminine hygiene, and most major health groups have declared talc harmless. Still, the International Agency for Research on Cancer classifies genital use of talc as "possibly carcinogenic." Attorneys with the firm that handled the St. Louis cases cited other research that began connecting talcum powder to ovarian cancer in the 1970s. They cite case studies showing that women who regularly use talc on their genital area face up to a 40% higher risk of developing ovarian cancer.